Since the last upgrade of org-plus-contrib to 20170210 I can no longer create clock tables in org mode. Computing the begin statement creates an empty table (see below) and throws the error org-clocktable-write-default: Wrong type argument: char-or-string-p, nil.

#+BEGIN: clocktable :maxlevel 5 :scope tree2 :tcolumns 1
#+CAPTION:  [2017-02-12 So 14:42]

I have not changed anything in the clocked tree nor in the init file. So, to me it seems that the error results from changes in the org-clocktable command. Have you also run into this error? Has anybody found a solution to that?

UPDATE from 27.02.2017: The clocktable command works if I duplicate a single org file and run it as a different user with a not customised init file. Does anybody has a tip how to interpret the error message, so I can find the causing error in the init file?

  • I have this problem too, cant find the source of the problem. I've got my .emacs in a git repo so I checked out an old version where Im certain clocktable worked, but the problem remained. Your workaround worked for me too so its probably an upgraded or a downloaded package that cause this bug. Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 9:48
  • @vcmsxs: I've solved the problem yesterday by commenting out parts of my init file. I am using org-ref and it turned out that a custom variable pointing to a folder that didn't exist anymore caused the error: (setq org-ref-pdf-directory "~/Documents/Bibliography/notes/org-ref-pdfs/") The clockmode error was fixed once I corrected this variable. Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 11:21

1 Answer 1


I've found the error by commenting out lines in the emacs' init file, starting with a large selection of code and narrowing it down to one line. It turned out that a custom org-ref variable causes this error when it points to a folder that doesn't exist:

(setq org-ref-pdf-directory "~/Documents/Bibliography/notes/org-ref-pdfs/")

  • Found it. I had a ox-freemind.el in my load-path. Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 13:19

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